Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Interview with Christopher Ulrich

q) Well, first of all please tell us a little about yourself.

a)That is a very complicated question that requires a very simple answer. It is the pursuit of this question that drives the work. Who and what the self is, seems to be different, depending on the situation. My first series, Demoneater is an attempt to create the first 15 “selves” that inhabit the darker side of my being. If one looks long enough into the mirror, it is obvious that the facial features change with age. The only thing that remains the same is the eternal darkness within the pupils. Who is that inside of there? This is the subject of much debate. Weather we are “ghosts in a machine” or “machines that have invented ghosts” is not the point, it is just the beginning of the mystery. For me, “yourself” is an adventure. I suspect that there is a brilliant light behind the darkness and I am on a spiralling journey within to find it.

q) Had you always planned on being an artist [or had you other hopes]?

a)When I was a young boy my father took me to the circus when we were in Switzerland. He took me to many places but it was there that I found my earliest memories of wanting to “be” something. I simply was, and thus I did not want to be a clown, I felt I understood them. I had a hard time understanding the bizzare world around me, however at the circus life made sense and there was a feeling of wonder that over took me. This would later turn into an insult, you were always a clown… or, your just a fool. When the I-maker identifies with the idiot, the court jester loses his appeal. We have a dangerous disease of wanting to be the king, yet very few have the “stones” to act like one, I mean responsible. Kings are not free, fools are. The next thing I wanted to do was go into outer space, or go to Egypt and study the secrets there, but these things were more interests than vocations. The idea of a job is so far down than the pursuit of one’s work. One is very blessed when one is payed to do what one loves to do, or are they? I think this is very tricky and I have always felt the Beast when confronted with the fear of making money. Sometimes it is better to render unto Ceaser what is his, and keep your real work private. One can create incredible things and the bottom line is, “did you make money from your craft?” The problem is that Money is the symbol of Value, Value is what makes You important. This is a lie. Many who are on this path fall prey to it, and become monsters. My plan as an artist is very different than those around me. I have made different choices that may appear strange to those who want to become a successful artist. I want this also, but my understanding of success has levels. My mentor was an artist with Value, a real survivor and he said to me “if you can do something else, then do it!” I think he meant that if you do your work do it all the way, not because you have a choice, but because you are compeled too. Many artists in history have stated that the work itself is stronger than the artist. Many have died doing this, and yet when “teaching” children I have often asked “what is the meaning of Art?” They always say “to have fun”. Strange to think we pollute this simple act, and place a death sentence on those who are crazy enough not to compromise their pursuits when tempted to “do” something else. This may be a life or death decision and one must be very carefull. For me the “I” alone was not enough. “I” had an experiece that is of value to Me. This event happened three times at different moments of my life yet it all happened during a certain period. It happened again and again, and again. I was in Korea living and working there instead of going to art school. I had won a scholorship that only a fool would drop and instead sold everything I owned so that I could go to an asian country (which I knew nothing about) To be surrounded by “ strangers in a strange land”. I was doing the work, and went for a walk. One day dreaming, my thoughts turn to wanting to “be” an artist, but this time it was different, something was in the air, do you know what I mean? I became aware, for a moment! and there was a witness! I said out loud, a charged feeling more than just words: I was both an Artist and that I wanted to be one. I am! , and at the same time asking for a blessing, the future of the work. At that moment a Bumble Bee stung me in the back of the neck. Bang, I freaked out! After being stung for a third time I just smiled and it never happened again.

q) Do you have a preferred medium to work on? Why?

a)I like to work in oils, yet anything will do.

q) How would you describe your style?

a)To have a style is a luxury; it means you have a tradition, and colleagues to whom you can go to for support. Those who work within a style have fans, and standards by which they can judge themselves by. In my Demoneater series I did a painting called “The Great Masturbator” in which the demonic head of Salvador Dali possesses the penis of the artist and swallows his face. I think before your work becomes strong enough to stand on its own it is compared with those who are known (and often more accomplished). I do not know what style my work will fall into, or even if it will be considered at all, I am driven by what “it” wants to be. Since it does not speak in words, it has never said Christopher you are this type and I am this “ism”. Thus I must rely on others to grace me with a title. The problem is that I have not found those persons to whom I can be included with. I will endeavour to work harder.

q) Do you go through any certain processes while trying to produce your work?

a)At the opening of my Demoneater Exhibit I showed all my drawings, maps, and notes that I created while I was painting. I also muraled all the walls and created a giant sketchbook in which I placed the paintings on top off. The whole gallery was illuminated. I will soon update my website and the Demoneater exhibit will be open for veiwing. What I can say now, is that the process itself is the art. When you look at a picture what you see is what is left over. That which is front of you is the last part of one journey and the beginning of another. I find that the metamorphosis of a picture is more than just pushing paint or creating illusionary tricks, it is an experience.

q) What are you working on at present?

a)After Darkness Falls the next opportunity I may have, is to be included in a group show called Carnivora at the L’Imagerie gallery here in Los Angeles. I say maybe because I will transport the picture tomorrow and then I will see if I am accepted into the show. A mysterious door that has presented itself… The painting is called “Merlin’s Machine”. It features the wizard and his assistant driving in an alchemically-altered T-bucket. They are pursued at night under a blanket of stars, by the police, on a desert road which ends before a cliff. An unknown mummy-like figure points forwards, Merlin knows, in a state of “terrorjoy”, that they are all about to go over into the Abyss… I have taken tonight to write these thoughts because if I am shown there or elsewhere is not important, although I would be greatly honoured to do so. What is important is that I will finish four more paintings before I update my website. After that I hope to have a window of time to begin Illuminator the second part (series II) after Demoneater.

q) What about recent sources of inspirations?

a)At the moment the Synchronistic Doors are in my mind’s eye, I hope to discover the next Keys…

q) What are some of your obsessions?

a)An obsession is a state of being that is occupied by a persistent idea. A loop in ones thinking that drives one to do an act over and over again. Like an old record skipping a beat over and over across time and space. Are you sure you want to open this Door?

q) Which galleries have you shown at and which galleries would you like to show at?

a)I have shown at a Bergamot Station Gallery: the Dan Lang Design Group and Gallery in Santa Monica, Ca.; Infusion Gallery in Los Angeles, Ca.; Cannibal Flower in various locations throughout Los Angeles, Ca.; Thinkspace in Los Angeles, Ca.; The Grind Gallery in Mar Vista, Ca.
I would love to show Illuminator that is my biggest hope. If any gallery is interested in showing Illuminator let me know.

q) If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

a)I can be reached via email. My address is Also one can check my website as it will be updated. That address is

q) Do you have any suggestions or advice for artists that are just starting out?

a)If you are lost that is a start. If you think you know and you have teachers, learn from them only what you are suppose to know, nothing more. Be thankfull and kind, and do not take, or steal from others, unless you are paying homage to those that inspire you. Be respectful to those who came before you and more importantly to those around you. Keep a sketchbook, fall in love, and give everything you can. Now for those that are lost, my brother and sister it is not who is best in the Arena that’s important, it is who survives the longest. You will have to hide like a rat within the carcasses of the dead, while the Titans above you clash to the Roar of the spectators. There are minotaurs and other real villians that will make a meal of you. Your own best friend might stab you in the back, fueled by jealousy or dellusions for advancement. Others will woo you into their cult and castrate you which is not so bad compared to the terror of the Great Work within the blood soaked sands of the Arena. After eating bones and cleaning the shit out of the toilets you may find a small tender flower growing between the rocks and the skulls, worship it! I am dead serious, and although I am not a poet, I am telling you this in the only way I can. Hope ends with you. Your faith and courage will awaken all the other underdogs to break the chains of fear, be a wolf, be yourself and if you find me there amoungst the bodies and the flies, be a friend. As far as the practical map of making a living creating art, the shows, the does or the do nots, this is relative. There is no map!

q) Who are your favourite artists?

a)Before I understood that someone made the thing that set my imagination sky rocketing, it was creation itself that was my favourite Artist. Then I had a favourite flavour of Ice Cream and my life changed forever. I would savour every bite of Swiss Orange Chocolate ice cream until the devil made all the ice cream parlours that made that flavour disappear. I realize that all things had creators creating the creations that become the creators of other creations creating evermore. There is a birth, and a death to all things. Those that inspired me to create my own work by there own examples are numerous and I am too tired to write about it. But an Artist that has touched me personally is Alex Grey. It was at his event that I met my beloved wife to be, Melinda. Before I had my Demoneater show last November, I had the honour of driving up to San Francisco to see him again at a benefit event for the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors Project. There Melinda and I gave him the first Demoneater book #1 of 515. We were both very humbled to be a small part of that evening and I hope one day I can see him again. (I made these books which is its own artwork for the show and will have them available for sale on my website, after I paint
the last four pictures, as stated above.)

q) What books are on your nightstand?
a)Our bed is on top of a sea of books.

q) To what weaknesses are you most indulgent?

a)A broken ship.

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